Safe as houses - or a Mercedes S-Class

[intro]Mercedes has always led the way in terms of car tech. It was the first manufacturer to feature anti-lock brakes and stability control, not to

Mercedes’ has always led the way in terms of car tech. It was the first manufacturer to feature anti-lock brakes and stability control, not to mention passenger and driver airbags. And, if you want a car designed to keep you and your latest issue of Stuff safe, look no further than the company’s S-Class.

The first thing that crosses your mind when skimming through the S-Class’ feature list is do I really need all this? Isn’t most fancy car tech just designed to lure me into believing that I’m a better driver than I actually am? Quite possibly, but having spent quality time with the Merc and what it has to offer it’s difficult to argue.

The tech that I did get to grips with works exceptionally well. DISTRONIC PLUS is a clever cruise control system that can keep the car at a set speed and distance from the one in front. It even has the power to slow down and accelerate depending on what’s happening in front. Granted, the first time I used it my foot was hovering over the brake, fearing the worst, but I needn’t have packed extra underwear. Letting the car take control seems strange at first, but seeing that Michael Knight didn’t mind KITT wearing the trousers in their relationship, why should I?

The S-Class is a pretty big beast and I’m of the opinion that if you can’t park one of these then you shouldn’t really be driving one, but I have to admit, that the PARKTRONIC reversing aid really does help. A camera is mounted in the boot lid and the outside image is relayed back to the screen in the centre of the dashboard where you’re aided by guidelines that keep you away from the kerb and wandering pedestrians.

Lastly, we come to Night View Assist. The inclusion of two-infra-red lights transforms the Merc into a set of night-vision goggles on wheels. In dark conditions, you simply flick a switch and you can see into the distance via a greyscale image on the driver’s display. Not only does it give you the feeling that your part sniper, part motorist, it gives you a great view of the road ahead.

What makes the S-Class so accomplished is that the features a) work and b) don’t take a degree to understand and operate unlike other cars I could mention. But I’ll that rant is for a future blog.